The Anxiety of Driverless Cars

Yeah, I know there is quite a bit of anxiety out there about driverless cars but I am not one of those.  I hope before I die I am able to buy one.

2017-12-13_09-38-27Ford Motor has set a goal of producing a self-driving car with no steering wheel and no pedals by 2021, allowing time to make sure such technology can be managed safely.

Source: Trying to Bypass Anxiety on the Road to Driverless Cars – The New York Times

I love to travel but don’t particularly like to drive, but I hate flying even more. That is a dilemma that would be solved by being able to program in where I want to go and then just enjoying the scenery and reading about my destination while getting there.

Being a techie who is usually an early implementer I can’t wait to jump on board.  Before you jump to any conclusions, no the final design will not be anything like the picture above. All of that stuff on the top will be miniaturized and virtually disappear before it is consumer ready.

I have been away from the details of technology for too many years now to even speculate how all this stuff is accomplished. My most basic question is how does the car distinguish between a plastic bag in the road from a large rock? I would love the see the algorithm that accomplishes that task.

What about you? What do you think about driverless cars?

Satisfying Retirement and RJsCorner

2017-12-26_09-26-27.pngOne of my regular blog reads is Satisfying Retirement from Bob Lowry. Bob’s blog is much more popular than mine and as a result of him mentioning RJsCorner in his blog list, I get quite a few referrals from it. Some of his readers who visit RJsCorner might be interested in how very different people can become friends.

Over the years we have become pretty good blog buddies. At this point in our lives we share many of the same beliefs and feelings, but from his post of yesterday entitled  If Life Had a Do-Over Option, Would I ? and previous discussions we had very different paths to get to where we are.   I didn’t want to hog the comments section on his post, so decided to write a post here comparing his earlier life to mine in order to show how opposite they were.

BobMy life has been rather ordinary in most respects. I was raised in a typical 1950’s-60’s American suburban environment by two parents who loved each other and their three sons…  I went to college, got married in my late 20’s, had two daughters, 

RJ: I am a couple of years older than Bob but I too was raised in just about the same period. But since my mother was an extreme narcissist, she abandoned her family for greener pastures when I was about ten years old. Dad just wasn’t much of a communicator so I had very little guidance in my formative years.  I didn’t get married until the age of forty and have no children.

Bob: I wasted my time at college…College, for me, was not a time when I allowed myself to be intellectually challenged. I took the courses I needed to but was never fired up by most of them… I was the president of my fraternity…

Me at the age of 18RJ: I was just a skinny naive farm boy then but college years were some of the most enlightening years of my life. Since there was simply no family money available to fund my college years I ended up working 40+ hours per week for a five-year pay-as-you-go college trip. Being I worked so hard to get there I was anxious to learn as much as possible. I had little time, inclination, or funds to even consider a fraternity let alone being its president.

Bob: ..built a successful career in an industry I had fallen in love with at age 12… At the peak of my consultancy, I was serving over 30 radio stations single-handedly and had worked for over 200 other stations at one time. 

RJ:  I re-invented myself several times during my thirty-year career. It took twenty years to finally discover where I should have been in the first place. Since I had undiscovered Asperger’s traits even during these years, one-on-one associations were at best very difficult.

There are several other basic differences between Bob and me as far as our pre-retirement years are concerned but I think you get the point, our lives were just about the exact opposite.  So, how could two people with very different life experiences end up at pretty much the same point years later, let alone friends?  I think our common beliefs of empathy and celebrating diversity has something to do with it.

 

Grandpa Would Be Proud..

I have decided to spend this last week of the year totally ignoring our dark political times. Here is the first installment.

One of the things I remember most about my grandpa, besides him being a pig farmer, was that he would start each meal by cutting everything into small pieces and then mixing it all together!  No matter what was on his plate it would end up in a pile with everything else.When questioned about it he always said: “It’s all going to the same place so why not start it that way”.

2017-12-23_08-49-13.pngI’m sure if grandpa were alive today he would say “I told you so”. It used to be only the upscale snobby type restaurants piled all the food together in the middle of the plate, but now it seems to almost be a universal trend. I have always wondered how you are supposed to eat it when it comes that way. Personally, the first thing I do is to move everything to its own real estate on the plate so that I can enjoy each item individually.  I guess I have to pay more attention to those around me to see what most do?

Maybe grandpa had it right all those years ago and it just took the rest of us 50 years to catch up.  I would love to hear from some of my readers about what you think of this trend?

The G.O.P. Is Rotting

The title of this post is from the quoted article below from my friends at the New York Times. I like the analogy of the GOP falling down the rabbit hole and continually going deeper and deeper.

2017-12-16_11-13-06.pngNow it’s clear that middle ground doesn’t exist. That’s because Donald Trump never stops asking. First, he asked the party to swallow the idea of a narcissistic sexual harasser and a routine liar as its party leader. Then he asked the party to accept his comprehensive ignorance and his politics of racial division. Now he asks the party to give up its reputation for fiscal conservatism. At the same time he asks the party to become the party of Roy Moore, the party of bigotry, alleged sexual harassment and child assault.

There is no end to what Trump will ask of his party. He is defined by shamelessness, and so there is no bottom. And apparently there is no end to what regular Republicans are willing to give him….

Source: The G.O.P. Is Rotting – The New York Times

Once you lose sight of light its hard to remember where you once were. I once admired the GOP for their fiscal discipline. Debt and deficits were once things they despised.  They believed that government must be on a pay-as-you-go basis. But now it seems that this discipline has been lost in the fever to reward their donors with tax breaks and loopholes that they don’t really need as they have too much now.  Putting mammoth debt on future generations seems to be the modus-operandi now.

Other than rewarding their donors, I really don’t understand the principles of the GOP if they even have any.

  • Is it now to undo everything their opposing party has done?
  • Is it to eliminate government and put everyone on a “survival of the fittest” basis?
  • Is it to become an  “Evangelical” party?
  • Is it to follow wherever some tyrannical and incompetent leader chooses to push them?

I just don’t know what guides the GOP anymore?

But in reality, I don’t think the Democrats are in much better shape.  They seem to now be the party of the fringes of society.  They seem more concerned about lesbian rights than they are about the average guy on the street.  Fiscally, they are as bad as the GOP. They simply don’t see any past social programs that have outlived their time.  They seem to want big government for its own sake instead of what it can do for the people.

We need an alternative to both present parties. One with equal portions of fiscal sanity and empathy.  We need a centrist party now rather than later.

 

Tax Reform??

2017-12-16_10-44-43.png I want to start this post off by saying I think there are some good parts to the current tax bill that is now the law of the land.  I have always thought that we should quit taxing corporations and instead put the full tax on the shareholders/owners of the corporation.  At least they got the first part right, putting the bill on the shareholders is another story. This bill was advertised as “tax reform” but in reality, it does nothing to eliminate all the inequities of the current tax code.  Very few loopholes were closed, in fact, many more were added to reward this donor or that one or to get every GOP Senator to vote for it.

The only way to even begin to have a tax code that is equitable to all is to pretty much throw out what we have and start over again.  We need to tax all income as “income”, it doesn’t matter where it came from or where it is going. People living off past generation’s wealth often pay considerably less as a percentage of taxes than those who draw a salary or hourly wage.  That to me is inequality at its worst.

But, the biggest problem with the current tax code is the loopholes that allow many to not pay their fair share of taxes. The current Oval Office holder is certainly one of that group. Since there are so many loopholes the only way to do it is to just start over. You pay taxes on your income and then spend your money as you want. If you want to give to your church to fund your Sunday get-togethers, by all means, do that.  If instead, you want to spend money country club fees for your Sunday get-togethers that’s fine too. The government should not be subsidizing either of those choices.

I do want to separate discretionary income form non-discretionary.  That is everyone needs a certain amount of money for basic life services.  This includes things like healthcare, housing, food, and transportation. After those basic needs are fulfilled then the income tax pops up the same for everyone. When I say “basic” I don’t mean million dollar homes or $200,000 cars. The same “basic” applies to everyone.

I know this type of real tax reform would cause a significant loss of jobs in the lobbyist population. In fact, it would pretty much eliminate those folks entirely.  It would also drastically reduce the need for income tax preparers and IRS people to check them. Most, if not practically everyone would be able to file their taxes themselves. In fact, I kinda like the idea of the IRS informing me of what tax I owe and if I agree you don’t even have to do anything.  Wouldn’t that be something?

I hope someday lawmakers will finally realize that a simpler approach to taxes would be more equitable for all.  But I just don’t see that kind of courage in this current lot of federal representatives.

The Difference Between Good Writers and Bad Writers

I have run across some interesting articles lately about what makes a good writer. Some of the characteristics come naturally to me, some I need to learn. But one thing I know after nine years and 3,000+ posts here on RJsCorner my secret is in the editing is as much or maybe more important than the first inspirational thoughts that start each post off on the publication process.

Here is the source of the topic for today:

2017-12-11_11-40-03.pngWhat good writers do Good writers practice. They take time to write, crafting and editing a piece until it’s just right. They spend hours and days, just revising. Good writers take criticism on the chin and say “thank you” to helpful feedback; they listen to both the external and internal voices that drive them. And they use it all to make their work better. They’re resigned to the fact that first drafts suck and that the true mark of a champion is a commitment to the craft. It’s not about writing in spurts of inspiration. It’s about doing the work, day-in and day-out. Good writers can do this, because they believe in what they’re doing. They understand this is more than a profession or hobby. It’s a calling, a vocation. Good writers aren’t perfectionists, but they’ve learned the discipline of shipping, of putting their work out there for the world to see. What bad writers don’t do Bad writers don’t understand this, which is precisely what makes them bad writers. They (bad writers) presume their writing has achieved a certain level of excellence, so they are often closed off to editing or rewriting. They can seem haughty, prideful, and arrogant. But really, it’s laziness and fear (mostly fear).

Source: The Difference Between Good Writers and Bad Writers

Many times my daily posts go through at least five editing sessions. I would guess that about half of the original thoughts never make it through this process. They started out with an idea that just didn’t have the depth or personal interest to sustain the initially intended post.

Except for the short snippets that I occasionally put out, I never post first drafts. They almost always have typos or just don’t say exactly what I wanted. My first drafts suck.

The one part of the quote above that I have some disagreements with is that much of my writings come in spurts. Sometimes I will write five posts in one sitting and then go five days without authoring a word. But one thing I do agree with is that writing is a calling and not just a hobby or profession. Before I started RJsCorner nine years ago I had journals from decades before. I still do my journals in addition to the blogging.  Writing is a passion for me and I think I am kinda good at it. But that statement is up to you to make.

On-The-Road – Studebaker Museum

I had been in South Bend Indiana a couple of times in the past few years before I realized that it was the home of Studebaker car manufacturing.  So, I thought it was worth another trip to that city. It was the last trip I took for the 2017 season.

While Studebaker was never considered a mainstream car it was a well made and totally Hoosier. The Avanti model has gotten quite a calling now and is sought out by many collectors.

 

Latching On To False Beliefs..

It’s become quite clear that really bad people get more attention than decent people. Liars get more attention than truth-tellers. Conspiracy theories get more likes than reasoned arguments. It’s clear that short tweets are more convincing with some people than logical and balanced discussions.

It’s also clear that people are getting lazy and think that a democracy is a never-ending state.  That could be a tragic rationale to have.  As Thomas Jefferson said, maintaining a democracy is hard work. In order to make thoughtful choices at the ballot box means studying the issues to determine the best path to take.  Are we, for the most part, losing that ability today?

I don’t know if we are beyond the tipping point in our democracy or not, but we are getting closer to that sorry state and I propose that the reason is laziness. We latch on to a very flawed person or belief and disregard everything else. It is just easier, and lazier, to make a snap judgment instead of making the effort to come to an informed decision.

It is easier to latch onto a conspiracy theory instead of debunking it. Like the phrase “Make America Great Again”, that sounds good at first thought but if you study the facts you know that this phrase really means turning back the clock to a time that we deem better than today.  Two things are wrong with this idea.

  1. The world, like it or not, is in a constant state of change and it always has been and always will be.  You simply can’t change that fact.
  2. Many seem to forget that the past contained many or maybe, even more, problems than the present, but different ones.

2017-12-11_11-08-05.pngI grew up in the 1960s and was of a draft age during the Vietnam war. Almost 60,000 of my generation lost their lives in that totally needless war. Compared to the about 6,000 in the ten years of war in the Middle East today. How can those be the good old days?

Double-digit inflation took a serious toll on wages. Compared to the low 2% or less today those were troubling times.  I can remember one year during the 1970s the annual inflation rate exceeded 15 %. That is many times what it is today. It decimated many senior citizen’s nest egg and caused some pretty severe times for them. How could those be the good old days?

2017-12-11_11-12-04.pngAnd then there was the Civil Rights movement that finally broke the Jim Crow. That was the racial caste system which operated primarily in southern and border states, between 1877 and the mid-1960s. Jim Crow was more than a series of rigid anti-black laws. It was a way of life.   Of course breaking Jim Crow also meant a mass migration in the south from the Democratic party to the Republican party.  I remember the political unrest at the 1968 political conventions dwarfed anything around today.

2017-12-11_11-10-33.pngPlainly speaking, the “Good Ole Days” that many dream about now wasn’t any better, and maybe worse, than today.  We need to find 21st-century solutions to our 21st-century problems instead of looking backward. Will that take work? Of course it will but considering the consequences it is worth the effort.

Contemplating the All Powerful God and the All Loving God…

2017-12-16_14-27-42.png The Old Testament has always been a struggle for me. I find far too many places where God’s wrath is brutally shown. This is in such a total contrast with Jesus Christ I know in the New Testament. It is almost like the good cop/bad cop scenarios that play out so much on the TV cop shows. I tend to refer to it as the all-powerful God vs. the all loving God. Can the two really co-exist or did God basically change his management style between the Old Testament and the New Testament or you could say between the old and the new covenant? These are the things I have been thinking about lately. I know they are theological in nature and I have sworn off that sort of thing but it still crops up from time to time. I just can’t seem to help it.

I must admit that I almost ignore the power side of God. In that sense, I seem to be in conflict with many evangelical religious establishments today who revel in God’s power. They deem that God is all-powerful and absolutely everything that happens is because He has willed it.  One of the dictionary definitions of the word will is the faculty of conscious and especially of deliberate action.

So following this “all powerful” to its conclusion means that God deliberately brought millions of children into existence so that he could kill one every three seconds today by depriving them to have safe drinking water or enough to food to eat! Or in another example, he purposefully created all the dictators of the world so that they could kill thousands (millions collectively) of the people for little or no reason.  The people who pray to the all-powerful God say they don’t understand these sort of things but God must have a divine purpose for his extreme brutality.  I find it very difficult to even contemplate praying to that kind of god.

Here is how I see all of this: 

I kind of believe in the God of the Possible as illustrated by Greg Boyd in one of his many books. That along with the fact that God gave man free will answers the good god/bad god dichotomy for me. No, God is not responsible for all those children dying. That pitiful condition belongs totally to us humans. We are the ones who can’t seem to get along with one another.

Jesus told us to love one another; we just can’t seem to get that right especially when it comes to loving across national borders. God gave us free will and except for maybe some very very rare circumstances, he does not go back on his word.  It is not God doing his will, as some say, that causes all the suffering in the world it is that WE don’t do God’s will to love one another.

I know I have no right to speculate but so many theologians do it every day so here goes. I do kind of believe that God did change his approach on how to guide us between the old and the new covenants. He could see that the “powerful God” approach just didn’t work with us sinful human being and at that point, He just decided to love us anyway.  God’s love is called agape love that is it doesn’t have conditions attached. What the ramification of that has concerning heaven and hell is a matter for a future post.

Fall At The Homestead

For this artsy Saturday, I want to give you a photo from this past Fall.  It is basically looking from my front porch.  Even after seventeen years here I still appreciate the Fall colors, but maybe not so much the leaves that have to be later raked. 🙂

 

2012 12815

I Don’t Like Eye Candy..

This is going to be one of my Aspie themed posts or so I image but it also could be my almost total lack of exposure to women in my early years. Six of one, half dozen of the other I imagine.

Simply stated I don’t like eye-candy. Some of you might not know just what eye-candy is so I will explain it here.  Eye-candy is females who are on many TV shows and public events. About the only purpose of these women is to add a visual, and usually sexual, appeal to the subject at hand. Most often they are scantily dressed, wear seven-inch heels and tons of makeup and actually contribute almost nothing to the topic at hand.

2017-12-10_11-10-23.pngI have been to a few large car shows in my time and have seen eye-candy in bikinis draped across the hood of a car.  I usually just walk by to the next car. I guess there is something attractive for these women to make them take on these roles? Maybe it is the attention, maybe it is a validation of their sex appeal, maybe something else. Why in the world would anyone want to put themselves in this environment? It seems a breeding ground for possible sexual harassment cases.

To me, these kind of roles are an insult to womanhood. They are more meat markets than anything else. It is degrading instead of uplifting.

I just don’t like eye-candy..

 

 

The Truth And The Untruth Lay On The Same Level.

canstockphoto22825948.jpgThe title of this post comes from something I recently heard on GPS with Fareed Zakaria. The topic was how the Internet puts things out there with no clear distinction between truth and untruth. If you have the wisdom to discern the difference then the info you gain from instant communications is invaluable to you. If you don’t then it is difficult to decide just what to do with opposing information.

The very heart of this topic lies in the question, how does a person gain wisdom? Besides putting truth and untruth on the same level, the Internet also makes it very easy to only expose yourself to one particular view of the world. We can pick and choose which sources of info we read on a daily basis and never be exposed to anything we might not agree with. That is not the way to gain wisdom but instead to have tunnel vision.

As is the case with most things in life, the Internet has a bright side and a dark side. Nothing is ever totally black or white. I do agree that it was simpler in my youth. If I wanted to know something all I had to do was visit a library and look it up in an encyclopedia. I knew that the info in that document was parsed through many filters to make sure it was valid and truthful.  But, since this method of intelligence gathering took hours of work instead of seconds most question were simply left unanswered.

There is a lot of info out there for instant retrieval but much of it contains unfiltered lies and untruth. That fact is especially true when selecting which cable news outlet to view. In another area, it doesn’t cost anyone to set up a blog and post whatever you want. Of course, I am an example of that. Except for vulgarity, there are very few filters around what is posted.  Then there is Twitter, where anyone can rant about anything, truthful or not. Of course, that is the primary means of which the current Oval Office occupant puts out his distortions and lies.

2017-12-10_08-09-23.pngI am not old enough to have actually heard any of FDR’s “fireside chats” but I understand that they were very inspiring and upbeat to the millions who listened. Now we have, as one of my Facebook friends pointed out “Trump’s toilet seat tweets”. Somehow I just can’t see anything inspiring about any of them.  Most are definitely untruths trying to sit beside truths, but anyone with an IQ over 50 knows at least in their heart what they are.